Pangos Evaluations

Stephen Zimmerman, Ray Smith and Lonzo Ball were among the top prospects at the Pangos Camp this past weekend...

The 2014 Pangos Camp was a little down in talent compared to previous years. There wasn't nearly as much elite talent from out of the area and, while there were some top players from the west, a number of the best players didn't make it to the camp.

Our usual caveats about evaluating players from camp ball still apply. The games bear little resemblance to real basketball and there's only so much that can be gleaned in such an environment.

Stephen Zimmerman, 6-11 C Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman. Zimmerman was terrific in this camp, playing with very good energy and showing all the attributes that have made him such a good prospect. He was active at both ends of the court, he hit jump shots, posted up, ran the court extremely well and finished strong at the basket. He's been up and down in terms of his focus/intensity over the last year, but he was ready to play this past weekend. UCLA has been on Zimmerman for a long time, but Kansas may be the leader right now.

Ray Smith, 6-6 SF Las Vegas (Nev.) High. Smith was among the most impressive prospects at the camp. An elite athlete with a great basketball body, his ball skills have improved in the past year. He's not a great shooter, but he's now good enough to keep defenses honest. With his length and quickness, he's got a chance to be a really good defender if he puts his mind to it. He makes plays around the basket and he's very good in transition. The word around camp was that he's probably headed to Arizona.

Isaiah Briscoe, 6-2 SG Roselle (New Jersey) Roselle Catholic. In a limited viewing, Briscoe wasn't particularly impressive. He's got a decent body and looks to be fairly good athlete, but his skill level didn't stand out and he didn't seem particularly engaged. Granted, it's camp ball and you don't want to take too much from it, but Briscoe didn't stand out in this environment. From talking with Briscoe this weekend, the Bruins are not seriously recruiting him at this time.

Noah Blackwell, 6-1 PG Roseville (Calif.) Woodcreek. Blackwell was very good in the two games I saw him play. He's a true PG, with fairly good athleticism, a good-looking stroke to the stripe and a good feel for the game. In a camp where the play was so ragged, Blackwell's decision-making and approach to the game stood out. UCLA isn't recruiting Blackwell but, given the uncertainties with the 2015 class, we're going to keep an eye on guys that the Bruin staff might ultimately take a look at in July. Blackwell isn't a no-brainer at UCLA's level, but he's someone that should be on the staff's radar.

Stephen Thompson, 6-3 SG Torrance (Calif.) Bishop Montgomery. Thompson played very well in a couple games over the weekend. He's got an excellent feel, with the ability to score from a variety of spots on the court. He's got range beyond the three-point line, but he's not just a shooter. He's a scorer with a solid mid-range game and deceptive athleticism. Thompson is another guy UCLA isn't recruiting, but he's a Pac-12 level prospect and, if things don't go well with the national guys the staff is recruiting, Thompson would be another possibility to look at in July.

Cameron Walker, 6-5 SF Santa Maria (Calif.) Righetti. Walker had a poor showing in this camp, looking very disinterested and playing with little energy. He's got a rep as a good shooter, but that part of his game wasn't apparent at this camp. We've seen him better in other settings but, even at his best, we've had doubts about him as a UCLA-level prospect. He's just a fair athlete and we question his upside at the next level. UCLA is involved with Walker, but the staff has prioritized other guys at this time.

Dejounte Murray, 6-4 SG Seattle (Wash.) Rainier Beach. Murray showed flashes of his ability in the two games I saw, making a couple very nice plays off the bounce and knocking down a few jumpers. But for the most part, he didn't seem particularly engaged. He apparently played very well in April when the coaches were out, but this wasn't his best showing. Questionable academics make him a long shot for UCLA.

Paris Austin, 5-11 PG Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd. Austin is a true point with very good ball skills overall. He's got good vision, a solid feel and he's a good shooter. He's a good, not great, athlete with pretty good quickness. Along with Blackwell, he was one of the better decision-makers among the PGs in the camp. He's another prospect that UCLA currently isn't recruiting, but he's good enough to be on their back-up list.

Lonzo Ball, 6-5 PG Chino Hills (Calif.) High. Ball had a solid showing in this camp, as he generally made good decisions and played with pretty good energy. He knocked down a few jumpers in the games I saw and had several nice assists. He didn't get a chance to dominate the ball like he does with his AAU team, as his team was one of the more talented teams in the camp. But he did a good job of facilitating and letting the game come to him.

Jayce Johnson, 6-10 C San Juan Capistrano (Calif.) J Serra. Camp ball isn't the best environment for a young big like Johnson, as the pace is very fast an he's not going to get a lot of touches in the post. He's a very big kid, that might not be done growing, and he's still growing into his body. He's just a fair athlete at this time, but he plays hard, he's physical and you can tell he wants to be a player. He showed a couple nice plays with his back to the basket. Assuming continued development, he's a likely high major prospect.

Vance Jackson, 6-7 C Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco. Jackson, despite his size, tends to float a bit to the perimeter, and this weekend it paid off, as he nailed quite a few threes. He's not a very good athlete, so it's a question who he'd defend, but with his size and shooting ability, UCLA is on him. He said that the Bruins are among the group of schools recruiting him the hardest, and Jackson's dad is a longtime UCLA fan.

Cody Riley, 6-6 PF Chatsworth (Calif.) Sierra Canyon. Riley is a physically mature man-child and there is some question about how much upside remains with his body being so developed already. However, he's got surprisingly good ball skills for a kid his size. He knocked down a few three-pointers and got to the rim several times. His decision-making was questionable at times, but he's a young kid playing in a camp environment, so that's not real surprising. With his ability to play in the paint as well as on the perimeter, he could be a very tough match-up down the road. Assuming continued development, he figures to be on the Bruin wish list in 2017.

Billy Preston, 6-7 PF/SF Irvine (Calif.) School TBD. Preston has a good basketball body, he's a fairly good athlete and he's got very good ball skills for a kid his size. His feel for the game is very poor, however, and he plays very selfishly. Talent-wise, he should end up a high major. But his approach to the game is questionable at this time.

Ethan Thompson, 6-3 SG Torrance (Calif.) Bishop Montgomery. The younger brother of Stephen Thompson, Ethan is a very good prospect in his own right. He's still somewhat immature physically, but he's got good ball skills, with range to the three-point line and a nice frame. He comes from a basketball family and figures to be among the more intriguing 2017 wings when it's all said and done.


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